Christmas Countdown: LOST & The X-Files

Highly-serialized TV shows can have Christmas episodes too!

LOST: The Constant (Season 4, Episode 5)

I am not going to explain the entire first three seasons of LOST — a plane crashed and now people are stuck on a mysterious island — and this show doesn’t really do standalone episodes (especially as we get into the later seasons). However, The Constant is probably as close as we get on this show.

There are about 500 characters but the main one you need to know about is Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) has become unstuck in time, with his consciousness randomly traveling between 1996 and 2004. As Desmond tries to figure out where, when, and who he is, the one thing he can rely on is a photo of his ex-girlfriend, Penny (Sonya Walger).

Yes, some of the enjoyment of this episode does rely on prior knowledge and the “present-day” island plot stuff isn’t nearly as interesting as what is happening to Desmond. The theme of “undying love” feels a bit trite, but the grounding force of the love Desmond has for Penny still feels beautiful.

This is a truly great episode and serves a good reminder of just how amazing LOST could be when it wanted to.

LOST is streaming on Hulu and IMDB.TV and individual episodes are available for purchase.

The X-Files: How The Ghosts Stole Christmas (Season 6, Episode 6)

A still from The X-Files: How the Ghosts Stole ChristmasThe X-Files was a show that was good at standalone episodes, though (and yes, it can be argued that a lot of the “monster of the week” episodes were better than the whole alien mythology stuff).

You know the plot of The X-Files, right? Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) are two FBI agents who work on paranormal cases/etc. and have a lot of sexual chemistry of a “will they/won’t they” sort.

It’s Christmas Eve and Mulder has called Scully out to a supposedly haunted house where two lovers killed themselves a long time ago. Inside, they meet Maurice (Ed Asner) and Lyda (Lily Tomlin), who are, of course, the aforementioned ghosts. Maurice and Lyda toy with Mulder and Scully, trying to convince them they actually came out to this house to kill each other. When that doesn’t work, they just make them think they’ve shot each other.

With its limited set and cast (there are only these four actors in the entire thing) and as part of the grand tradition of Christmas ghost stories, it’s probably one of the most charming and funny episodes of The X-Files. Tomlin’s Lyda, especially, is a delight when she sighs “But you’re both so attractive” when Mulder insists he and Scully are not lovers. I also like that despite Maurice and Lyda’s playful annoyance at each other, they’re still clearly in love after all these years. There are some things death can’t ruin.

The X-Files is streaming on Hulu and individual episodes are available for purchase.